Kim Jong-un has given one of North Korea’s highest honours to his favourite truck.
The pint-sized despot bizarrely awarded the vehicle a string of gongs, elevating it to the status of a national “hero” alongside his dad and grandfather.
The secretive state decorated Hwasong-17 launch vehicle No. 321 with a Hero of the Republic medal, Gold Star medal and Order of the National Flag, First Class.
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It has been used to launch the hermit nation’s inter-continental ballistic missiles during tests.
The honours would usually bring perks such as extra rations, free household appliances and a pad in the capital Pyongyang.
North Korea analyst Jacob Bogle said: “Giving awards to factories, individual machines and vehicles isn’t unheard of. In fact, it’s a practice that goes back to the days of Kim Il-sung.
“However, I am not aware of another example where the Hero of the Republic title was awarded to an object.”
Mr Bogle added that using the launch vehicle makes the North Korean nukes – which may be capable of hitting the US mainland – harder to stop.
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The news comes shortly after reports that a large uranium mine used to feed the nation's nuclear weapons collapsed.
Satelite images provided by Mr Bogle have appeared of the nation's biggest uraniam mine Pyongsan, with large collapsed areas.
Speaking of the facility close to the border with South Korea, he said: “The Pyongsan mine is underground, so the only visible aspects of it should be tunnel entrances, surface facilities like crushing equipment, and piles of coal.
“However, what has developed at the mine is a series of irregular pits with no associated activity – no trucks, no bucket excavators, and nothing to suggest they were created to facilitate mining.
“This area of the mine was already weakened by a 100-metre-wide collapse that occurred at least two decades ago.
“The recent collapses appear to be progressive, moving towards the west in successive cave-ins from 2019 to 2021.
“This suggests that the mined out galleries had lost their structural support and water infiltration has weakened the site further, causing collapses that follow the paths of the galleries.”
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